Let Them Help


Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 01/01/2013
Level: Intermediate

This deal was played in a knockout team event at the 2012 Las Vegas Regional.

South dealt with both vulnerable and held: ?AQJ64
?K8
?AQ5
?762
.

My regular readers know that I espouse opening 1NT with 15-17 balanced. If I were to open 1?, I feel that I would never be able to convey the nature of my hand (imagine a 1NT response).

After your 1NT opening, partner transfers to hearts, then bids 3?. This shows 5+?, 4+? and a game force.

He's got the hearts and clubs, you have the spades and diamonds, so 3NT makes sense. There is no reason to bid the spades (partner would take it as spade values and diamond worry).

 

Against 3NT, West actually leads a spade (another advantage to your auction). He leads a 4th-best ?3 and you see:

 

?92
?96543
?76
?AKQ5
 
?AQJ64
?K8
?AQ5
?762

 

 

RHO plays the king. How should you play?

 

There is no reason to hold up (East will know from the ?3 lead, with the deuce in dummy, that his partner has 4 and that you have 5); you don't welcome a red-suit shift.

 

After you win your ?A, if you play more spades, they turn out to be 4-2 (West has led from ?10xxx). You can give West his good spade and that would mean you have 4 spade tricks to go with 3 clubs and the ?A. Then, you could try for a 9th trick from either one of the following: 3-3 clubs, ?K onside, or ?A onside.

 

Do you see anything better?

 

Actually, there is something much better.

 

Before clearing the spades, play the clubs. On the top clubs, if they split 3-3, you will cash the 4th round (throwing a diamond) and then set up the spades. On the Real Deal, clubs are 4-2 (RHO has 4 of them). That's no problem. Will you guess to lead a red suit (in dummy for the last time)?

 

Of course not. Now, the stage is set to play the spades. You cash the high ones and give West his ?10. He has to surrender the 9th trick. He is out of clubs (even if he had the 4th club, all he could do is cash it and postpone the inevitable). He has to play a red suit into your ?Kx or your ?AQ. That's 9 sure tricks and +600. Here was the Real Deal:

 

Vul: Both
Dlr: South
?92
?96543
?76
?AKQ5
 
?10873
?AQ102
?KJ4
?93
  ?K5
?J7
?109832
?J1084
  ?AQJ64
?K8
?AQ5
?762
 

 

It is pleasing to see that both red cards were wrong. Had you played differently, you might have been set.